Hi there! Welcome to the 8th week of Unraveled! This one is a little longer than some others, so make yourselves comfortable for today’s segment.
Unraveled, Part 8
Rory called at five in the morning.
I was laying on the floor, feet propped on the wall, head on my beanbag, holding the shawl above me and crocheting. My eyes stung from lack of sleep and my arms were screaming in pain, but my back hurt if I sat up, since I hadn’t slept all night.
It took a minute for me to register the ringing of my phone. Then I dropped the shawl in shock, and it landed on my face. I snatched up the phone, which was sitting on my bookshelf, and looked at the caller ID. Rory White. I slid to answer it. “Hello?”
“Hello!” Rory seemed to be in good spirits. I didn’t know how anyone could function so early in the morning. “Is this Emma? Sorry, did I wake you?”
“Yeah. No, you didn’t,” I said, trying hard not to yawn. “Did you get my text last night?”
“Yes! That’s exactly why I’m calling!” I had never known anyone to use so many exclamation marks in their everyday speech. “I told you about my birthday party two years ago, didn’t I?”
I nodded. Genius, Emma, you’re on the phone. “Yeah.”
“I thought I could take you and Catherine to the place I held my party, and we could look around for clues and such!” Rory seemed so genuinely excited. But she was still a virtual stranger, even if she did seem well-meaning, and it would be pretty stupid to go anywhere with her. That was what my parents had drilled into me: Never get in a car with a stranger.
“Um,” I said, stalling for time.
My life was at stake here; if I didn’t go with her, I could die. I would bring pepper spray and my phone, and how much harm could she really do?
Besides, I was eighteen – almost nineteen – years old, and it was summer vacation. Wasn’t I supposed to do something wild? Maybe going to solve a yarn-related mystery with a fifty-year-old woman and my friend wasn’t exactly wild, but it was crazier than anything I’d ever done before. And I might not even live until nineteen if I didn’t do something about that shawl. There was really no question.
“Sounds good,” I said. “I’ll ask Catherine. Are you free today?”
We met at the community center, since we all knew where it was located. I brought a suitcase with me, since I didn’t know how long we would be gone. The location Rory talked about was down in Eugene, Oregon, which was about five hours from the community center in Seattle, probably more when you factored in traffic. And it was Thanksgiving weekend, which meant we could be spending a very long time on the road.
I was still excited, though. It had been years since I took a road trip – when I was thirteen, my parents drove us down to Disneyland in California. Hayden was bored out of her mind for a large portion of the drive, although she was of course younger then, but I liked the chance to read, nap, and look at the scenery. I was thinking about this as I waited for Catherine and Rory to show up.
Catherine made her appearance first, walking up the sidewalk with a green rolling duffel bumping along behind her. Her hair was pulled back in two braids that were pinned at the back, and the rest fell in dark red waves just past her chin. She was wearing a cream shirt with pastel flowers that contrasted with her black jeans. It looked like she had walked out of a springtime clothing catalogue or something, but it was November.
She saw me and waved, walking faster to get to me quicker. “Emma! All ready to go?”
“Yeah,” I said, clutching my own suitcase’s handle a little tighter. I glanced pointedly at her apparel. “How are you not freezing?”
She looked a little embarrassed, looking down at her shirt. “I dunno. I’m never cold,” she said. “Did I overdress?”
“No,” I said. “You look quite nice, actually.” Stupid! Why did you say ‘actually’?
“Thank you,” said Catherine. The corner of her mouth quirked upward in an amused smirk.
“You seen Rory yet?” I asked, trying to turn the conversation away from my lack of social skills.
“Yeah,” said Catherine. “I ran into her in the parking lot. She told me to go find you. Ready to go?”
I followed her down the path to the parking lot. Catherine let me go on ahead while she went to use the bathroom before leaving. I don’t know why I was surprised to see Rory shoving bags in the trunk of a bright orange Volkswagen beetle. It seemed to suit her personality pretty well. I dragged my suitcase over to her. “Hey.”
She turned around quickly. “Oh! Emma! How are you, dear?”
“Just fine,” I said. The sun was getting to the point where it blinded me, and I put up my hand to shield my eyes. “You sure you’re okay with taking us?”
“Of course,” said Rory. “I haven’t had an adventure in ages!” She pushed a suitcase a little further into the trunk. I hoisted mine up and added it to the pile. It was a tight squeeze, but all three of our suitcases fit with a little rearranging.
“You want me to drive?” I asked.
“No, that’s quite all right,” said Rory. “Maybe we can switch off, but I’m fine.” She smiled at me. “Now what are you girls going to do for seating arrangements?”
“Shotgun!” said Catherine, running to the passenger door. Rory and I laughed.
I pulled open the back door and climbed inside. There was a pile of debris on the left side, mostly knitting needles and tangled-up yarn, so I shoved it over a little so I could buckle my seat belt. Rory got in the front and started the car. I jumped as loud rap music started blaring over the radio. Rory cranked it up. “Do you mind?” she asked.
“Not at all,” Catherine said, looking back at me. I had to avert my eyes quickly so I didn’t start laughing.
Rory pulled out of the parking lot and turned onto the street, bumping over the curb in the process. “Sorry, girls!” She sped down the road, car shaking like it was going to explode.
Catherine and I exchanged a panicked look. It was clear that Rory had gotten her driver’s license a long, long time ago, and her driving skills had, shall we say, deteriorated. I gripped the arm rest, fingernails digging into the leather. Rory sped past a stop sign like the law didn’t apply to her, not even slowing down a bit.
“That was a stop sign,” I said, unable to resist.
“Hmm?” Rory’s eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. She was wearing glittery pink eyeshadow that distracted me for a minute.
“You were supposed to stop,” I said. Maybe it was bad manners to criticize her driving, but laws were made for a reason.
“Oh, that? Was that a stop sign?” Rory laughed. “Nobody was coming. They’re more of a suggestion anyway.”
My heart rate doubled like I had just fallen off a tall building. Of all the outcomes I had pictured for this outing, Rory being a reckless driver was not one of them. I found myself hoping we would run across a police officer so he could pull us over.
“Rory?” asked Catherine.
Rory wheeled the car around a corner, cutting off another driver who honked angrily, and sped up ten miles. “Hmm?”
Catherine gave a quick glance into the backseat, where I was sitting petrified with fear. “I forgot to use the bathroom before we left,” she said. “Could you stop at that gas station, please?”
I narrowed my eyes. She winked at me.
“Sure thing!” said Rory. She sounded like she was auditioning for an infomercial, she was so cheery. She made a left turn into the Chevron parking lot, narrowly avoiding killing us all by smashing into a large semi truck. I was sweating all over; I swear even my knees were sweating under my light blue jeans. “Run along and do that. Emma, do you need to go?”
I could feel my face getting hot as the attention turned to me. “Um, I’ll just step out of the car. Get some fresh air.”
Rory turned up the rap music as Catherine and I opened our doors and left.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story! Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a fantastic day. 😀